In a move which might presage similar developments here in the UK, the Italian Government recently relaxed a ban on product placement in Italian movies.
Topic: Branded content
Who: The Italian Government
Legislative decree 28/2004 imposed a completely new legal regime on the Italian film industry.
One of the areas in which significant reforms were effected was that of product placement.
Up until the coming into force of the new decree, product and brand placement in Italian films was forbidden by law.
Italian brands only
However, the imagined protection that this conferred on Italian cinema-goers was extremely limited for the simple reason that it only extended to Italian products and brands. The faintly ridiculous result of this was that with product placement rife in US-made films for instance, non Italian products and manufacturers were making hay while the sun shone, while local industries and brands missed out.
No small wonder then that under this new decree, the law has now been changed.
The blanket brand and product placement ban has been abolished and in its place are rules requiring that their placement in films is allowed so long as it respects transparency and truthfulness and is well embedded into the action of the film, without interrupting its narrative flow.
Another strand of the new rules is that all brands and products appearing in films by arrangement must be listed in the closing credits.
There appears to be no restriction on money changing hands in return for the placement, whilst there are also no indications at present that there will be a similar relaxation for the restrictions that continue to apply to programmes on Italian TV.
Why this matters:
With UK commercial broadcasters clamouring for a relaxation of the current ban on paid-for product placement in the UK and the US Federal Communications Commission pressing for the required proper disclosure of paid-for placements in TV and radio broadcasts and cranking up its enforcement activities, (a Texas radio station was recently fined $4,000 for not disclosing payments it received from A&M records for playing recordings by Bryan Adams) – product placement continues to be a hot button issue for regulators and for advertisers fighting the growing syndrome of the skipped commercial break.
We have recently reported that Ofcom is continuing to investigate the possibility of relaxing UK rules in this area. It may well be studying the recent Italian experience as part of that process.